CHAPTER 8   TRADE-RELATED INVESTMENT MEASURES


  1. OVERVIEW OF RULES
    (1) Trade-Related Investment Measures

    In the late 1980's, there was a significant increase in foreign direct investment throughout the world. However, some of the countries receiving foreign investment imposed numerous restrictions on that investment designed to protect and foster domestic industries, and to prevent the outflow of foreign exchange reserves.
    Examples of these restrictions include local content requirements (which require that locally-produced goods be purchased or used), manufacturing requirements (which require the domestic manufacturing of certain components), trade balancing requirements, domestic sales requirements, technology transfer requirements, export performance requirements (which require the export of a specified percentage of production volume), local equity restrictions, foreign exchange restrictions, remittance restrictions, licensing requirements, and employment restrictions. These measures can also be used in connection with fiscal incentives as opposed to requirement. Some of these investment measures distort trade in violation of GATT Article III and XI, and are therefore prohibited.
    Until the completion of the Uruguay Round negotiations, which produced a well-rounded Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (hereinafter the "TRIMs Agreement"), the few international agreements providing disciplines for measures restricting foreign investment provided only limited guidance in terms of content and country coverage. The OECD Code on Liberalization of Capital Movements, for example, requires members to liberalize restrictions on direct investment in a broad range of areas. The OECD Code's efficacy, however, is limited by the numerous reservations made by each of the members.
    In addition, there are other international treaties, bilateral and multilateral, under which signatories extend most-favoured-nation treatment to direct investment. Only a few such treaties, however, provide national treatment for direct investment. Moreover, although the APEC Investment Principles adopted in November 1994 provide rules for investment as a whole, including non-discrimination and national treatment, they have no binding force.

    (2) Legal Framework

    GATT 1947 prohibited investment measures that violated the principles of national treatment and the general elimination of quantitative restrictions, but the extent of the prohibitions was never clear. The TRIMs Agreement, however, contains statements prohibiting any TRIMs that are inconsistent with the provisions of Articles III or XI of GATT 1994. In addition, it provides an illustrative list that explicitly prohibits local content requirements, trade balancing requirements, foreign exchange restrictions and export restrictions (domestic sales requirements) that would violate Article III:4 or XI:1 of GATT 1994. TRIMs prohibited by the Agreement include those which are mandatory or enforceable under domestic law or administrative rulings, or those with which compliance is necessary to obtain an advantage (such as subsidies or tax breaks).
    Figure 8-1 contains a list of measures specifically prohibited by the TRIMs Agreement. Note that this figure is not exhaustive, but simply illustrates TRIMs that are prohibited by the TRIMs Agreement. The figure, therefore, calls particular attention to several common types of TRIMs. We would add that this figure identifies measures that were also inconsistent with Article III:4 and XI:1 of GATT 1947. Indeed, the TRIMs Agreement is not intended to impose new obligations, but to clarify the pre-existing GATT 1947 obligations. Under the WTO TRIMs Agreement, countries are required to rectify any measures inconsistent with the Agreement, within a set period of time, with a few exceptions (noted in Figure 8-2).

    Future Challenges
    The TRIMs Agreement is only a first step toward eliminating trade distortions. Although some policies, such as certain export requirements, are not expressly prohibited by the TRIMs Agreement, it is important that governments understand the capacity of such measures to distort trade. Disciplines on these policies will need to be given further consideration in the new investment working group that the WTO Ministerial Conference decided to establish in December 1996.
    The TRIMs Agreement is scheduled to come up for review within five years of the entry into force of the WTO Agreement and efforts should be made to incorporate appropriate new rules to address such additional policies at that time.

    <Column> Efforts to Establish New Rules Regarding Investment
    (i) Efforts to establish a Multilateral Agreement on Investment at the OECD
    Members of the OECD have been negotiating a comprehensive and legally-binding "Multilateral Agreement on Investment" (MAI) that would provide for both the liberalization and the protection of foreign investments. The Agreement would provide 1) a high degree of discipline on investment protection; 2) broad obligations to liberalize investment; and 3) an effective dispute-settlement mechanism that would include a scheme for litigating disputes between investors and states as well as between states. It was expected that the Agreement would be open to all countries, not just OECD members.
    Negotiations, which began in May 1995 with a goal of presenting a draft to the OECD Ministerial Council in April 1998, were extended because of an inability to reach a compromise on liberalization commitments, general exceptions and considerations to the environment and labour. However, immediately before the resumption of the negotiations in October 1998, France withdrew from the negotiations due to the reason that the above-mentioned high degree of disciple would violate its sovereignty. Thus, it became difficult to continue the negotiations and at present the negotiations are not conducted.
    The following four points about MAI remain to be solved: whether to allow exceptions to the "standstill" clause for certain specific areas; whether exceptions to most-favoured-nation treatment should be allowed for regional economic integration organizations; whether to allow a general exception for cultural reasons; and whether to include provisions covering environment and labour issues. In addition, there is no concrete results regarding country-specific exceptions.
    There are strong needs for some Multilateral Framework on Investment (MFI). The OECD Committee on International Investment and Multinational Enterprise (CIME) is scheduled to discuss, towards the OECD Ministerial Council in May 1999, how to develop the future work programme including the continuation of the analytical work.
    (ii) Efforts to Establish a Comprehensive Legal Framework for Investment at the WTO
    WTO investment disciplines are found in the TRIMs Agreement and the GATS, but both of these deal with particular areas or particular aspects of investment. There is currently no comprehensive multilateral legal framework that provides investment disciplines.
    As we have noted, the OECD was negotiating a comprehensive, legally-binding Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) that would liberalize investment and provide protection for foreign investments. However, it is said that the level of commitments to be included in the agreement was too high for developing countries and there were doubts about how many developing countries would actually join.
    The WTO Singapore Ministerial Conference of December 1996 therefore decided to establish a Working Group on the Relationship between Trade and Investment so that countries could examine the need for comprehensive investment rules in which the developing countries participate as well as the developed countries. In the past two years the Working Group did analyze and review the following three issues: "implications of the relationship between trade and investment for development and economic growth," "the economic relationship between trade and investment," and "stock-taking and analysis of existing international instruments". The Group reported the results of the review to the General Council. The WTO General Council decided to extend the Working Group's work programme to further analyze and discuss on investment. Whether to negotiate comprehensive rules on investment will be further discussed, with a view towards the Third WTO Ministerial Conference at the end of 1999, within the framework of the General Council's preparatory process for the next trade negotiations starting in 2000. Along with this process, the Working Group will continue its work in order to contribute to the General Council's discussion.


    <Figure 8-1> Examples of TRIMs Explicitly Prohibited by the TRIMs Agreement

    Local content requirement Measures requiring the purchase or use by an enterprise of domestic products, whether specified in terms of particular products, in terms of volume or value of products, or in terms of a proportion of volume or value of its local production. (Violation of GATT Article III:4)
    Trade balancing requirements Measures requiring that an enterprise's purchases or use of imported products be limited to an amount related to the volume or value of local products that it exports. (Violation of GATT Article III:4)
    Measures restricting the importation by an enterprise of products used in or related to its local production, generally or to an amount related to the volume or value of local production that it exports. (Violation of GATT Article XI:1)
    Foreign exchange restrictions Measures restricting the importation by an enterprise of products (parts and other goods) used in or related to its local Production by restricting its access to foreign exchange to an amount related to the foreign exchange inflows attributable to the enterprise. (Violation of GATT Article XI:1)
    Export restrictions (Domestic sales requirements) Measures restricting the exportation or sale for export by an enterprise of products, whether specified in terms of particular products, in terms of volume or value of products, or in terms of a proportion of volume or value of its local production. (Violation of GATT Article XI:1)


    <Figure 8-2> Exceptional Provisions of the TRIMs Agreement

    (1) Transitional period Measures specifically prohibited by the TRIMs Agreement need not be eliminated immediately, although such measures must be notified to the WTO within 90 days after the entry into force of the TRIMs Agreement. Developed countries will have a period of two years in which to abolish such measures; in principle, developing countries will have five years and least-developed countries will have seven years.
    (2) Exceptions for developing countries Developing countries are permitted to retain TRIMs which constitute a violation of GATT Article III or XI, provided that the measures meet the conditions of GATT Article XVIII which allows specified derogation from the GATT provisions, by virtue of the economic development needs of developing countries.
    (3) Equitable provisions In order to avoid damaging the competitiveness of companies already subject to TRIMs, governments are allowed to apply the same TRIMs to new foreign direct investment during the transitional period described in (1) above.


    The TRIMs Agreement requires Members to notify the WTO of TRIMs they operate. As of this writing, 24 Members have notified the WTO of such measures. Figure 8-3 details the TRIMs that have been notified, many of which are local content requirements in the automotive and agricultural sectors.
    By 1 January 2000, developing countries must eliminate its TRIMs that have been notified. At present, however, such TRIMs are covered by the transitional arrangement. This means that they must do so within less than one year. Yet, to date, developing countries have not revealed any detailed plans or schedules regarding the necessary elimination. The elimination of the above-mentioned measures is crucial to the sound implementation of the TRIMs Agreement. It is necessary for developing countries to recognize the necessity of the elimination and to eliminate the measures steadily. Lastly, it should be noted that, among these developing countries, Uganda - the only least-developed country (LDC) - may delay its compliance for two years.
    Recourse to the WTO dispute settlement procedures is currently underway concerning the automotive TRIMs of Brazil and Canada. (For details see Chapter 1 and 2.)

    <Figure 8-3> Outline of Notified TRIMs

            Local Content Trade Balancing Foreign Exchange Balancing Export Restrictions
    Argentina Auto Auto              
    Barbados Agri                
    Bolivia                      Others
    Chile Auto Auto          
    Colombia Auto, Agri Auto, Agri        
    Costa Rica Others              
    Cuba Auto,Others           
    Cyprus Agri           
    Dominica Republic Others Agri, Others         
    Ecuador Auto             
    Indonesia Auto,Agri,Others            
    India Others          Auto,Agri,Others
    Mexico Auto             
    Malaysia Auto               
    Pakistan Auto, Others               
    Peru Agri             
    Philippines Auto     Auto     
    Romania Others             
    Thailand Auto,Agri,Others             
    Uganda Others Others         
    Uruguay           Auto     
    Venezuela Auto              
    South Africa Auto,Agri,Others              

    Auto: Automotive sector
    Agri: Agricultural sector

    Note: Egypt and Nigeria notified that they have an incentive system for promoting industry, but it is unclear from the notifications the type of TRIM involved, or the targeted industries.


    (3) Economic Implications

    Figure 8-4 shows direct investment around the world for 1996 and 1997. Worldwide outgoing investment in 1997 reached $423.7 billion (an increase of about 22 percent over the previous year) as a new record and continues to increase. Developed countries were the driving forces behind this, accounting for about 80 percent of the world's outgoing investment and 60 percent of incoming investment. Developing countries reached their highest level of outgoing and incoming investment.
    Figure 8-5 illustrates trends in the flow of direct investment between Japan, the United States, and major Asian countries in 1997. In particular, the figure shows that direct investment from Asian newly industrialized economies (NIEs) to China and ASEAN countries is remarkable, indicating that investment climates in these areas are improving.

    <Figure 8-4> Direct Investment around the World (Unit: $1 billion)
         

    1996

    1997

    Amount of outflow Amount of inflow Amount of outflow Amount of inflow
    Total 333.6 337.6 423.7 400.5
    Developed Countries 283.5 195.4 359.2 233.1
    Developing Countries 49.2 129.8 61.1 148.9
    Russia and East Europe 1.0 12.3 3.3 18.4

    Source: World Investment Report 1998 UNCTAD

    <Figure 8-5> Flow of Direct Investment Among Japan, the United States, and Major Asian Countries (1997)

    Note: - Asian NIEs include Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
    - For statistical purposes, ASEAN4 includes Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia but does not include Singapore and Brunei.
    Source: Ministry of International Trade and Industry


    In the short term, TRIMs provide countries with perceived benefits. Some governments view TRIMs as a way to protect and foster domestic industry. TRIMs are also mistakenly seen as an effective remedy for a deteriorating balance of payments. These perceived benefits account for their frequent use in developing countries. In the long run, however, TRIMs may well retard economic development and weaken the economies of the countries which impose them by stifling the free flow of investment.
    Local content requirements, for example, illustrate this distinction between short-term advantage and long-term disadvantage. Local content requirements may force a foreign-affiliated producer to use locally produced parts. Although this requirement results in immediate sales for the domestic parts industry, it also means that this industry is shielded from the salutary effects of competition. In the end, this industry will fail to improve its international competitiveness. Moreover, the industry using these parts is, unable to procure high-quality, low-priced parts and components from other countries, and will be less able to produce internationally competitive finished products. The domestic industry can hope to achieve, at best, import substitution, but the likelihood of further development is poor.
    The consumer in the host country also suffers as a result of TRIMs. The consumer has no choice but to spend much more on a finished product than would be necessary under a system of liberalized imports. Since consumers placed in such a position must pay a higher price, growth of domestic demand will stagnate. This lack of demand also hinders the long- term economic development of domestic industries.


  2. PROBLEMS OF TRADE POLICIES AND MEASURES OF INDIVIDUAL COUNTRIES

    Under the TRIMs Agreement, member countries are required to notify the WTO Council for Trade in Goods of their existing TRIMs. Figure 8-3 shows the general breakdown of the TRIMs that have been reported to the Council. Most are from developing countries who, based on their stage of economic development, have adopted industrial policies that may, for instance, impose local content requirements.
    Countries maintaining TRIMs are expected to amend their domestic laws and institutional rules within the appropriate transitional period. Even in the transitional period, it is desirable to phase out the TRIMs in the spirit of the TRIMs Agreement.
    From this perspective, the moves being seen in some developing countries to introduce new TRIMs are something that cannot be ignored if the TRIMs Agreement is to be implemented faithfully. Therefore, when necessary, resolution should be sought through WTO dispute settlement procedures.
    Even developing countries should realize that they must eventually break their dependence on TRIMs. Japan and other developed countries should extend whatever assistance is necessary, both technical and otherwise, to facilitate the phasing-out of TRIMs.
    It goes without saying that Japanese companies investing overseas are expected to increase the amount of parts they purchase locally. Indeed, the rapid appreciation of the yen has created a powerful economic incentive for Japanese companies to expand local procurement. Market-driven local procurement will contribute to the local economy. Such efforts, however, should be carried out in economically viable forms tailored to the local corporate environment, rather than enforced through TRIMs or other policy-based regulations.
    Faced with the rapid internationalization of developed countries' industrial bases, many developing countries are intensifying their efforts to attract foreign investment, hoping to draw on outside capital for their own industrial and economic development. We would note in this regard a new trend that is particularly prominent among Asian countries of relaxing investment restrictions to create an environment that is more attractive and inviting to prospective investors. We can say that developing countries should promote further measures in order to attract investors.

    (1) Korea

    Local Content Requirements

    Korea's "Import Source Diversification Programme" constitutes a de facto ban on imports from Japan. The application for importation of items designated under the system must include both a contract and a commitment to deliver goods approved by the Korean Trade Agents Association. Because approval is generally difficult to obtain, imports are effectively banned. (See Chapter 3 on Quantitative Restrictions.) When importing parts required for the production of final products that have been designated for production technology development by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, manufacturers are exempt from the requirement to submit the above-mentioned contracts and delivery commitments only if the following conditions are met: (1) they submit a "parts procurement plan" to a specified certification institution; (2) they apply to that institution for permission to import the required parts, and (3) they are given a recommendation from the head of the institution. The certification institutions only provide recommendations for companies that they confirm are following the domestic production ratios specified in their parts procurement plan. This system functions as a local content requirement by offering an exemption to the contracts and delivery commitments (which themselves effectively constitute an import ban) as an incentive for companies to adhere to the domestic production ratios. The system, therefore, seems to be inconsistent with the TRIMs Agreement. Items have gradually been moved off the designated items list in subsequent years. Further, at the time of its membership in the OECD, Korea committed to full elimination of the programme by the end of 1999. In addition, at the end of 1997, the government of Korea reached an agreement with the IMF on measures to reinforce its economic reform programme including the elimination (by the end of June 1999) and in June 1998, Korea announced items to be struck off the list.

    (2) Indonesia

    Local Content Requirements

    Since before the WTO came into force, Indonesia has imposed local content requirements in the automotive sector (see Chapter 2 for detail). In addition, Indonesia also requires that set percentages of domestic products, such as soybean cake and fresh milk, be consumed. Both measures are local content requirements falling under paragraph 1(a) of the Illustrative List annexed to the TRIMs Agreement. There are indications that the local content requirements in fresh milk have been abolished at the beginning of 1998, although the WTO has not been notified of it.
    The Government of Indonesia notified the measures regarding the above two items to the WTO. It however announced on 31 October 1996 that it would withdraw its auto-related notification on the grounds that the local content requirements in its auto sector did not constitute a TRIM within the meaning of the Agreement. Those measures that the WTO has been notified of are not in contravention of the Agreement, but Japan must still watch that they are not expanded and that they are eliminated on schedule.
    The National Car Programme, which was introduced in 1996, is the measure that gives an advantage in proportion to achievements of local content requirements. A panel was established in June 1997 by the requests of the United States, EU, and Japan. (For details see Chapter 2.)

    (3) Thailand

    Local Content Requirements

    The TRIM notifications of the Thai Ministry of Industry detail a variety of minimum local content ratios for cars and automotive products assembled in Thailand. For example, the local content must not be less than 54 percent for passenger cars and not less than 70 percent for motorcycles.
    The Thai government has established additional requirements for commercial vehicles. For example, certain items used in commercial vehicles must be sourced locally (e.g. tires, batteries, springs, seats, radiators, etc.).
    In addition, one-ton commercial pickup trucks are viewed as "mass-market vehicles" and are therefore subject to special local content regulations. Those with an "E chassis" (in which there is no body beyond the doors) must have a local content of 65 percent and must also gradually increase the local content of their engines.
    Under the Investment Promotion Act, the Board of Investment (BOI) sets local content requirements for television picture tubes, motorcycle engines, diesel engines for agricultural use, paper, dairy products and other items.
    The WTO has been notified of these measures and they are not in contravention of the agreement, but Japan must still watch that they are not expanded and that they are eliminated on schedule. The Thai government previously announced that the local content requirement for passenger cars (at least 54 percent mandatory) would be eliminated in July 1998. However, it later decided to extend the period from July 1998 to January 2000 due mainly to its economic recession arising from various reasons, including collapsed domestic industries. This decision is to be regretted since this requirement had been expected to be eliminated before the expiry of the transition period under the TRIMs Agreement.

    (4) Malaysia

    Local Content Requirements

    In lieu of its previous domestic content requirements, the Malaysian Government imposed new domestic content guidelines effective from 1 January 1992. According to the guidelines, domestic content requirements will rise from 20 percent in early 1992 to 60 percent for passenger cars and 45 percent for commercial vehicles by the end of 1996. (See Figure 8-6.)

    <Figure 8-6> Guidelines for Local Content in Malaysia
          Category A Category B Category C
    31 December 1992 30% 20% Local content requirement for specified parts
    31 December 1993 40% 30% (same as above)
    31 December 1994 50% 35% (same as above)
    31 December 1995 55% 40% (same as above)
    31 December 1996 60% 45% (same as above)
    After 1997 60% 45% (same as above)
    Category A: passenger cars with an engine size of less than 1,850cc;
    Category B: passenger cars with an engine size of 1,850cc or more and less than 2,850cc and commercial vehicles with GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) of less than 2,500kg;
    Category C: passenger cars with an engine size of 2,850cc or more and commercial vehicles and off-road vehicles with GVW of 2,500kg or more.


    Similarly, Malaysia has had local content requirements for motorcycles since 1981; requiring assemblers to use at least 60 percent locally produced parts. Malaysia also has investment incentives that come with local content requirements. The Promotion of Investment Act of 1986 requires production plans given such privileges as "pioneer status" or "investment tax allowance" (ITAs) to meet local content standards. Companies given "pioneer status" are relieved of 70 percent of their income tax liability for a period of five years. The WTO has been notified of these measures and they are not in contravention of the agreement, but Japan must still watch that they are not expanded and that they are eliminated on schedule.

    (5) India

    Local Content Requirements, Import/Export Balancing Requirements, Export Restrictions

    On 12 December 1997, India announced a new automotive policy that requires manufacturers in the automotive industry and the Ministry of Commerce to draft and sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on new guidelines for the industry. The policy has the following problems in relation to the TRIMs Agreement. First, the policy requires that 50 percent local content be achieved within three years of the date on which the first imported parts (CKD, SKD) were cleared through customs, increasing to 70 percent within five years of first clearance. Second, the policy requires that exports of automobiles or parts begin within three years of start-up, with the possibility of restrictions on the amount of parts (CKD, SKD) that can be imported depending on the degree to which the export requirement is met. This amounts to an export/import balancing requirement. Even prior to this policy, India had a history of making auto parts import licenses for companies setting up operations within its borders conditional upon signing MOU containing local content requirements and export/import balancing requirements--despite the lack of any legal basis for doing so. It is certain that the new automotive policy of 1997 is designed to institutionalize the previous administrative guidelines. In the TRIMs Committee held in March/September 1998, some countries - including Japan, the EU and the United States - argued that the policy would not be regarded as compatible with the WTO Agreement. Subsequently, in October 1998 the EU requested consultation - Japan and the United States participate in the consultation as third parties - and the first consultation was held in December 1998. The government of India should eliminate the policy as soon as possible.
    In addition, India has had export restrictions on agricultural products and industrial goods since 1991, and in 1986 imposed local content requirements for penicillin and other pharmaceuticals. The WTO has been notified of these measures and they are not in contravention of the agreement, but Japan must still watch that they are not expanded and that they are eliminated on schedule.

    (6) Philippines

    Local Content Requirements, Foreign Exchange Restrictions

    The Philippines has imposed local content requirements and foreign exchange restrictions as part of its passenger car, commercial vehicle, and motorcycle development plans. The local content requirements and foreign exchange restrictions differ according to engine displacement for passenger cars, according to shape and weight for commercial vehicles, and according to whether two or three wheels are used for motorcycles.
    The Philippines imposes local content requirements in coconut-based chemicals (soap and detergent). The WTO has been notified of these measures and they are not in contravention of the agreement, but Japan must still watch that they are not expanded and that they are eliminated on schedule.